A few things annoyed me about “Aquaman,” but this blockbuster sci-fi film delivers on stunning visuals with an enthralling look at monsters of the deep like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Of course, “Aquaman” comes straight out of the DC comic book franchise, so most of Aquaman’s pre-determined story offers little room for reinterpretation. I confess that I’ve never read the comic book version of his story, so those bothersome elements in the movie surrounding Aquaman’s character may not be the screenwriter’s fault.
With the lead as Aquaman placed firmly on his very, very muscular shoulders, actor Jason Momoa uses every ounce of his brute physicality to portray the superhero. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll know Momoa as Khal Drogo, chieftain of the Dothrakis. Momoa capitalizes on that stony stare and deliberate, reserved demeanor he perfected in that role. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t elevate the role to maximize those characteristics as being kingly. On the contrary, at times he’s downright dense.
The problem surrounding Aquaman’s predestined rise to his rightful place as king has more to do with his lack of self-esteem than any other factor. As a result, when he has a chance to save the world, he’s reluctant. He has to be coerced. His hesitancy borders on what looks a lot like weakness. It’s not, but it takes some intense conversations to convince him that he’s “worthy” of trying for the golden trident. Power just doesn’t seem to be his forte.
The problems have to do with his birthright. When his mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), future Queen of Atlantis, washes ashore near a lighthouse, the lighthouse keeper Thomas (Temeura Morrison) scoops her up, takes her in, and promptly falls in love with her. Soon they have a son, Arthur (Jason Momoa). They’re all deliriously happy until a team of Atlantis fighters come up from the deep to bring Atlanna back to Atlantis.
By the time problems escalate in the politics of Atlantis, Arthur and his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) are men who will become bitter enemies. Orm likes to point out consistently that his half-brother is a “half-breed” since Arthur’s father is human.
Arthur clearly blames himself for his mother’s sad plight. She’s been banished to the trenches of the deep and is likely dead, all because she co-habited with a human and produced a bastard son.
Circumstances and conflict will escalate with Orm’s plans to unite the kingdoms, raise Atlantis to the surface, and bring havoc on the wasteful, sea-polluting humans. The strongest hope to foil the plan will be facilitated by Princess Mera (Amber Heard). She will draft the very reluctant Arthur to save the world.
Stunning visual effects make seeing “Aquaman” on the big screen worth it. You’ll know what it feels like to fly through the caverns of the deep, battle the worst sea-creatures ever born, and ultimately save the world. I just wish Aquaman felt better about himself.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.
Marilyn Robitaille writes film reviews for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune and the Glen Rose Reporter.